UPDATE, Feb. 7, 2019: A Twitter account that appears to be associated with Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown tweeted Thursday afternoon that YAF and Grand Canyon University had arrived at a deal that would bring Ben Shapiro to campus.
BREAKING: @GCU signed @YAF’s contract and we’re moving forward to bring @benshapiro to campus with @GCUYAF1776 through our exclusive Fred Allen Lecture Series. Ticketing and other details to follow. pic.twitter.com/b42teF2FPY
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) February 7, 2019
After the nation’s largest Christian university sought to separate conservative commentator Ben Shapiro from the group that wanted to bring him to the Arizona-based college, Shapiro turned the tables on the college that once rejected him and rejected it.
The saga began Feb. 1 when Grand Canyon University in Phoenix turned down a request from the Young America’s Foundation — a group that promotes conservative thought on college campuses — for Shapiro to speak.
The college said in a statement that Shaprio was divisive. The school wanted to use its “position as a Christian university to bring unity to a community that sits amidst a country that is extremely divided and can’t seem to find a path forward toward unity,” the statement said.
The students did not accept this decision quietly.
“By caving to an unseen mob and ignoring the popularity of Shapiro among its student body, Grand Canyon University just played itself and deserves whatever negative response this brings,” Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown said in response, according to Fox News. “GCU has abandoned the sentiment of its own proclaimed values, deluded itself into acting like the liberal campuses it claims to differ from, and blindly accepted the Left’s ludicrous argument that Shapiro’s presence somehow damages students, campuses, or debate.”
The college then offered its form of a compromise, according to the Arizona Republic.
“We’re not going to work with this group any longer, but we will extend an invitation to Ben Shapiro directly,” Grand Canyon President Brian Mueller said, indicating the school will not work with YAF.
“We got tremendous amounts of negative publicity, which obviously nobody likes,” Mueller said.
The change took place against a backdrop of infighting between the YAF and administration over a statement in which students felt they were being unfairly blamed for the university’s initial rejection of Shapiro.
The comprise went up in flames soon afterward when Shapiro said that he had no plans to speak if the YAF was shunted to the sidelines.
“Re: GCU’s speech offer, I have worked with YAF and YAF students for years. I will not go around the hard working, dedicated YAF students at GCU; I’ll go to GCU when YAF brings me to GCU,” Shapiro said.
Re: GCU’s speech offer, I have worked with YAF and YAF students for years. I will not go around the hard working, dedicated YAF students at GCU; I’ll go to GCU when YAF brings me to GCU.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 6, 2019
The college then replied with a statement claiming that is was quite confused over all of this kerfuffle.
— Grand Canyon U (@gcu) February 6, 2019
In the statement, the college said that it didn’t “fully understand” Shapiro’s tweet.
It said, in fact, that the YAF members at Grand Canyon could be fully involved in the speech.
“Per Mr. Shapiro’s tweet, we are not asking him to go around the hard working dedicated YAF students at GCU, as they will be the people working directly with him and his organization,” GCU said. “If the students wish to consult with the national YAF office to make it happen, they are free to do that.”
That’s not how the students saw it.
“GCU administrators claim to support conservatives, but at every turn they have attempted to shame, bully, and intimidate the young people working hard to bring Ben Shapiro to campus,” YAF said in its statement Wednesday.
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